Some Tales From the Front Lines of Book Retailing

What is that Chinese curse about “May you live in interesting times”?

It does take time to establish yourself in a new field, especially something like writing.  You think you have a good idea; the problem is getting the rest of the world to agree with you.  It takes time and a lot of work.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this past week, I  spent  eight hours each day trying to sell books outside a military base exchange.  Things were slow this weekend.  The luck of the draw, I suppose.  I’m still pretty new at this, but I had a very courteous vendor next to me, a jewelry artist , who helped me figure out how everything ran.  By the way, if you’re interested in unique jewelry, go to  Their website is still being built and they operate out of Wilmington, NC, but the website can at least be a contact point.  She really does have some interesting designs.

The novelty of selling at retail can wear off quickly (about the third day for me), but you do meet some interesting people.  One man’s son is a utility lineman who was getting ready to depart for Florida at 7 pm that night due to the impending tropical storm (which I think ended up dissipating anyway).  One time he rushed to a disaster area, and there were no accommodations for the crew; they ended up sleeping in a barn.  Another became a teacher after his military service, although he remembers his experiences less fondly than I do.  Several others had stories to tell and asked advise about publishing their own books, which I was happy to give.  For example, there are several publishing websites on the Internet; I’ve used  And so it went.

But when you do make a sale, which I did about once every two hours,  the buyers seem genuinely happy to have found your book, in this case The Cactus Who Wanted to Be a Christmas Tree.   Judging from their reactions, I hope I’m making a lot of sons and daughters and nephews and nieces happy.

And that’s the fun part.




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